A 90-year-old Army veteran currently in hospice care in San Diego has only one wish this Halloween: to hand out candy to costume-clad trick-or-treaters – perhaps for the final time in his life.
Annette James’ father, Andy Furlong, is battling the end stage of Parkinson’s disease, and James says Oct. 31 will likely be his last Halloween. The holiday is one of his favorite days of the year.
James says her father -- a proud U.S. veteran and former racecar driver, boxer and chef -- moved into his home in San Diego's East County 10 years ago. Every year for Halloween, he purchases lots of candy in anticipation of passing it out to festive trick-or-treaters.
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“Every Halloween at the end of the night, he ends up with the same amount of candy he started with. For some unknown reason, their street does not get trick-or-treaters,” James told NBC 7.
Usually, the only trick-or-treaters that do stop by the family home are Furlong's nine grandchildren, who always make several visits to Grandpa for Halloween candy.
Despite the poor trick-or-treater turnout, James says her father asked again to buy Halloween candy this year – just in case.
James says she didn’t have the heart to turn down her dad’s sweet request, so she’s planning something special to help make this Halloween extra memorable for him.
On Saturday, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., Annette plans to sit with her dad outside their home and have him hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. She’s hoping people hear his story and bring their kids to visit the WWII Army vet – even if only for a quick second.
She said he’ll be sitting in his wheelchair, his candy bowl in hand, and any visits will brighten his day amid what has been a difficult few weeks for her father and their family.
“Not only will you get a little candy from a very nice person, but you will also make a very nice 90-year-old veteran very happy,” she added.
The family lives at 9233 Briercrest Drive in La Mesa, just east of Grossmont Hospital.
Furlong’s story has gotten warm reception on social media, and hundreds of NBC 7 viewers lined the street Saturday to visit the vet. Many also brought extra candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters.
"I have a friend who lives down the street and he says there's never trick-or-treaters in this neighborhood so I said, I know exactly where that is, lets stop by and say thank you," said Lucy Calvillo, one of the many that came out.
"I'm just amazed by the turnout, the people, I've never seen anything like it," said Steve Allen, a Navy veteran who came out to thank Furlong. "I'm proud to be an American."
Furlong said he was overwhelmed by the amount of people who came out to see him.
"It's too much for me, I can't believe it," he said. "I didn't realize there would be that many people sitting and watching TV at home."
He sat out, handing candy to trick-or-treaters who came to visit him.
"Thank you everybody for showing up," he told NBC 7. "I appreciate it very much. God bless you. Happy Halloween."
James is grateful for the community’s support of her father and his Halloween wish.
“I’m very appreciative,” James said. “I’m so grateful to everybody who’s been helping out, sharing and posting, and just wanting to get the word out so he can have a great Halloween.”
Furlong’s family says they can’t wait to see the twinkle in his eyes.